Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Might Makes Right?

I have seen a wide range of defences of theism over the last few years, ranging from the delusional to almost sane. By far my least favourite and the most detestable to me are ones that try and defend a theism that includes a hell from a moral angle. In particular, conservative theisms whose gods punish people for very human behaviour, like sex. When pressed as to why their god doesn’t want us to do certain things (like simply being gay), the theist will almost certainly resort to some form of argument from design. At this point I would like to bring up the fact that there is no distinguishable point of origin where our ancestors ceased being ‘mere animals’ and became human, that is the nature of evolution. So any argument that rests on so-called design utterly fails right here.

One aspect of this discussion that I find slightly more interesting than the sexual orientation and preferences of various deities is the justification for not harming one another. I assume that most people regardless of belief would hold some sort of moral system that frowns upon hurting other beings. The justification for this moral principle in my system is that I do not wished to be harmed, and will not harm others because a society that constantly harms each other is not one I would like to live in. This is not really an objective justification, but I find it to be sufficient in this case. What would a theist who believes in god-given objective morals have to say about this situation? I imagine it would be something along the lines of “It is wrong to harm one another because God says it is wrong.” Ignoring the looming Euthyphro Dilemma, I would like to examine the implications of this proposition in light of a belief in Hell.

Assuming a god commands that it is wrong to harm people, what possible justification could a theist give for their god supposedly sending people to hell? Harming them for eternity (or at least a very long period of time)? It seems to me like the only option for them is to adopt some form of ‘Might Makes Right’. Regardless of whether objective moral standards exist or not, what kind of society would we live in if we all lived by this principle? The regimes of Hitler and Stalin, the crusades, slavery, rape, and murder would all be legal and moral actions. If any theist really believes that their god has the right to punish people, simply because “it’s God!” then I am sorry, you are an immoral person.

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